On Thursday 19th May the IEB (the body that has replaced the previous governors) of Oval School held 2 evening meetings for teachers and for parents about their proposals to invite ARK Schools to take over running of the school from September 2011. At the meeting parents heard from John Philipson, the Chair of IEB, explaining the board’s reasons for choosing ARK. He explained the board had been sceptical about Academies but had come around to appreciate what ARK Schools could do to improve Oval School.
It was clear from his presentation that the board had considered working with other Croydon Schools but there was a lack of strong headteachers and/or existing excellent schools having the spare capacity to help others. It is a clear indictment of last 5 years of Conservative Council Education Policy in Croydon that there wasn’t a “Croydon Solution” available to resolve the problems Oval School faced.
After John Phillipson explanation we received a presentation from ARK about the achievements they have done with others schools across London, and what their plans are for Oval. They mentioned that all children starting in September 2011 will get a free school uniform. Ark School places a lot of emphasis on teacher training and there are likely to be around 10 days set aside for this, compared to the normal five. It also meant the school was likely to start a week later or so in September than the original start dates that have been publicised.
We then heard from Venessa Willms, the Headteacher of Kings Solomon’s School in Westminster who will oversee Oval School on behalf of Ark. Ark hope to appoint a new headteacher for the school within the next few days. As well as explaining the Ark’s philosophy and teaching methods, she also mentions that ARK are considering renaming the school to ARK Bayes Academy. ARK schools place an emphasis on basic skills such as reading and Maths, and the name Bayes is in honour of 18th Century Mathematician Thomas Bayes, who is famous for the Bayes Theorem.
It is clear that some parents at the meeting were keen to change the name of Oval School as a break from the past, but if ARK is to show that this school is rooted in the Addiscombe and East Croydon communities, then keeping Oval in the title is an an acknowledgement of all the successes of Oval School, and the 1000 of pupils who have have received wonderful education there, over the last 125 years. It would be a sad day that more than 125 years of history and identity with a local area should be swept away and replaced with the name of a mathematician who never visited Croydon.
Ark also showed their proposed new logo based on Borromean Rings, which sounds like a event from one of Tolkein’s books but are actually a special type of 3 interlinked rings.
Ark have committed to consulting on the name and logo and if you want to let them know what you think you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.